Karl Barth on Pentecostalism

From Frank Macchia’s FB page:

A cautious but affirming response to Pentecostalism:

Barth“One could never have enough of Pentecost. This has to do with the Holy Spirit. For this reason, a little Pentecostalism — also again as salt of the earth (cf. Matt. 5:13)– cannot hurt any of us… It is quite necessary that someone draw attention to the fact that we all need the Holy Spirit. When one does that, and then something from Pentecost becomes visible again, how can we say something against it? There is nothing that can be said against it.”

– Karl Barth

(Busch, ed., Gasamtausgabe, Gesprache 1964-68, 430-32)

Someone responded:

A Barthian scholar and friend noted to me that Barth always left room for the surprising work of God, but did so only ‘out of the corner of his eye.’ Maybe that’s what he meant by ‘a little Pentecostalism.’

To which Macchia replied:

I like this corner of his eye. Yes, that is typically Barth. In the larger entry from which the quote was taken, Barth is responding to letters sent to him from David DuPlessis, which praised God for mass successes in Pentecostal crusades in various parts of the world. Barth was turned off by what he saw as a triumphalistic spirit which reminded him of sensationalistic worldly entertainment (He even said, “Das schmeckt mir nach Zirkus oder nach Kino“). But he was able to see past this to the deeper value of Pentecostalism for the churches. The value of the Barthian dialectic was precisely in his capacity to celebrate the essential and vital meaning of a movement like pentecostalism from which he would otherwise and for various reasons feel alienated.

….But he was able to see past this to the deeper value of Pentecostalism for the churches…  well, too bad more haven’t been able or willing to have similar considerations.   Obviously I think Barth’s approach is a good one to take.

Blessings,

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2 responses to “Karl Barth on Pentecostalism

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